Education Minister M.A. Baby met Italy’s Ambassador to India Roberto Toscano here on Thursday and sought his assistance for the establishment of an international centre for Indo-Italian studies in Kerala.
He suggested organising workshop-cum-exhibitions in New Delhi and Rome on Indo-Roman trade history with special reference to Pattanam (near Kochi) excavations, and research exchanges and joint publications.
He gave details to Mr. Toscano about the archaeological excavations undertaken by the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) at Pattanam, as part of the Muziris Heritage Project of the Kerala government. This major inter-disciplinary research initiative by the KCHR since 2006 was undertaken in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India and a host of universities and research institutes.
He said Pattanam Excavations had revealed the commercial and cultural interfaces between India and the Mediterranean during the heydays of the Roman empire.
The archaeological excavations (2007, 2008 and 2009) had brought forth extensive evidence for ancient Roman contacts with India. The Roman connection was made explicit by the large quantity of amphora sherds, terra sigillata sherds, cameo blanks and Roman glassware fragments. The wharf, canoe and bollards excavated from Pattanam date back to the 1st BC/AD period, he said.
Other important finds include architectural features, copper, gold and iron objects, semi-precious stones and glass beads, early Chera coins and West Asian and Chinese sherds. The excavations also recovered a variety of eco-facts including black pepper, cardamom, frankincense and rice, the Minister told Mr. Toscano. KCHR Director P.J. Cherian and Federico Romanis, an expert collaborating in the Muziris Heritage Project from the University of Rome, were present during the meeting.